Kramer: NIC transition will 'focus my passion'

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CEO Robert G. Kramer speaks at the NIC Fall Conference in 2015.
CEO Robert G. Kramer speaks at the NIC Fall Conference in 2015.

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care announced the next step in its leadership transition Thursday with the news that Robert G. Kramer would be stepping down as CEO on July 17. Brian Jurutka, the Annapolis, MD-based organization's president, will assume additional duties as Kramer's successor in the role.

Kramer, who founded the organization 27 years ago, will continue with NIC as a full-time strategic adviser.

The CEO said Thursday that he and NIC's Board of Directors began discussing how to ease a future transition even before Jurutka was identified in a search to find a successor to Kramer as president two years ago. Jurutka, he added, joined NIC at that time with the expectation that he would be CEO one day and has worked with Kramer to better understand NIC's vision and mission.

“I like this transition at a time where I still feel I have a lot to give,” Kramer said. “Both the board and Brian have been generous enough to enable me to focus my passion in the areas that I feel I can bring the most value and really serve Brian and serve NIC.”

Those areas, he said, will include contributing to the organization's study assessing the demand for middle-market seniors housing and its seniors housing benchmarking project as well as planning content for the upcoming Fall Conference and next year's Spring Investment Forum. But Kramer said he's most excited about the “outward-facing” opportunities his new role will afford him, now that he no longer will need to concentrate on the day-to-day decision-making that comes with leading an organization.

“It's developing relationships with the people and discovering the ideas and the organizations and even the industries and sectors that are going to be influential, not to say disruptive, to our own industry as we seek to meet the housing and care and lifestyle objectives and desires of the boomer generation,” he said.

Those organizations, industries and sectors could relate to healthcare, wellness, lifestyle, predictive analytics and the broader aging services field, Kramer said.

“We are increasingly positioning to not just attract real estate-based investors but also non-real-estate-based private equity, venture capital and so forth, as well as debt,” he said. “That means interacting more with non-real-estate-based providers of care and services — for instance, care management organizations, insurance plans, other risk-takers, technology-driven home care and enhanced primary care delivery at home,” he added, with “home” including seniors housing and care settings.

Impressive from the start

Jurutka, pictured below, said he's looking forward to leading the organization that has impressed him ever since he interviewed to become its president, from its reputation to the commitment of the more than 120 volunteers who serve as board members, meeting planners and committee members to the staff members he described as “very dedicated.”

In his two years with the organization, he said, “I've really come to understand and see firsthand the strong brand that NIC has built and that Bob has helped lead and grow over the past 25-plus years. ...We have an opportunity as an organization, with the combination of those three key ingredients, to have an impact on millions of elders, and I'm really excited about that.”

Changes brought about by baby boomers will influence the organization's efforts going forward, Jurutka said.

“As we take a look at the first boomers turning 80 in 2026, NIC has been a key player in helping to provide transparency and helping to have this platform to connect the capital seekers and the capital providers,” he said. “And over the course of the next nine years, the opportunity is as large or larger than it has been in the past for NIC to continue to provide that platform.”

Other big issues that NIC will be keeping an eye on, Jurutka said, will be the industry's use of technology to address the labor needs of caring for the growing aging population, changes in healthcare payment delivery models and “opportunities for value to be created by helping the residents in seniors housing and care facilities participate in the full continuum of care.”

Many changes in 27 years

The industry has come a long way since 1990, Kramer said.

“It's a bigger sector. It's now of great interest to institutional investors,” he said. “It's also more sophisticated, particularly amongst its operation and operators, with investors, debt and equity more appreciating the role of the operator in operations as being critical to the property and success of the property. But the one thing that hasn't changed is the passion.”

One of the indicators of the increased professionalism in the industry, Kramer said, is the effort to certify assisted living executive directors through the independent, nonprofit Senior Living Certification Commission, formed by Argentum in 2015. NIC provided a $250,000 grant to fund the research needed to develop the testing protocols for the certification.

In the future, Kramer predicted, the industry will be challenged to provide even more transparency through data. “I think the boomer consumer is going to demand that — more transparency and, with that, more ability to document and demonstrate the quality that we provide,” he said.

Jurutka's more than two decades of experience in data analytics, operations and business development will serve the organization well, he said.

“I've laughed with Brian over the past two years and said, ‘Boy would I love to be 20 or 25 years younger and have the opportunity at that age that you're going to have over the next 20 to 25 years,' ” Kramer said. “And I said this same thing to the staff this morning, because we have a lot of young people on our staff. I truly believe for the industry, but especially for NIC, as a thought leader, as a driver of transparency and as a key provider of data and analytics, the best is yet to come, and I'm excited for what that will look like under Brian's leadership.”

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